SPRINGFIELD — Illinois now has two budget plans, but chances are slim that either one will be the state’s final operating budget.

By Benjamin Yount

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois now has two budget plans, but chances are slim that either one will be the state’s final operating budget.

On Friday, just hours after the Illinois House passed the final piece of its 2012 spending plan, the Illinois Senate raced through a 22-piece budget that Democrats said trims state spending.

The Democratic plan in the state Senate would spend nearly $34.3 billion. That is about $1 billion less than what Gov. Pat Quinn has said he wants to spend, and nearly a $1 billion more than the $33.2 billion budget passed by the House.

House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, said the next step is to find a common price tag.

“I don’t expect that this budget will be the final spending plan. This is a budget that has been adopted by one chamber. This is a two-chamber legislature with the governor,” said Madigan. “(Senate President John) Cullerton and I met with the governor yesterday, and we reiterated our position that is now about 4 months old that we want to work with the governor, with the budget office, and we want them to tell us where there should be changes in these budget bills.”

If Madigan expects changes, he’s not saying what changes he expects. The speaker said the governor wants to spend more money than House lawmakers, but he didn’t guess as to what kind of compromise may be reached. The state House did not eliminate any of the governor’s budget proposals, but did spend much less than Quinn wanted.

“We are very anxious to work with the governor,” Madigan said. “Our goal is to adopt a budget that works for the state of Illinois and for the people of the state of Illinois in a depressed economy. That’s where we are.”

The Illinois Senate’s flurry of budget making had Republicans complaining about being rushed and left out of the process. Democrats enjoy a much larger majority in the state’s upper chamber.

Of the 22 pieces in the state Senate spending plan, most of Friday’s attention came to the one piece that did not pass. Republicans took aim at what they called a backdoor pay increase for some lawmakers.

State Sen Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said one line in the budget for the Illinois Comptroller’s office, which pays lawmakers, would boost salaries for lawmakers who head legislative committees. Pay for Senate committee heads would jump nearly 14 percent. Their counterparts in the House would see a 47-percent bump for being in charge of a legislative panel. All Illinois lawmakers earn $67,836 a year. Leadership posts and committee chairmanships boost that base pay. Many lawmakers earn more than the base salary.

“You know, again, we have supported per diem cuts, we have reductions in our own pay days and furlough days. We support doing so again. I can’t tell whether or not that’s in this bill,” said Murphy. “I think you’re all going to have to vote your conscience on whether or not you think this bill would actually increase or cut your pay accordingly.”

State Sen Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, didn’t have to wait long to check her consciousness.

“I don’t believe in cutting my salary, and I won’t be voting for cutting my salary,” said Collins.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said, overall, lawmakers will be paid less in 2012. She said the General Assembly will see daily expense payments drop, and lawmakers can expect to have to take unpaid days off.

“Overall, the appropriation is going down on average for all members. We’re going to be seeing a reduction — we suspect of $3,000 if we pass the follow-up bill that deals with furloughs days. And the per diem is going down as well,” Steans said.

The confusion scuttled the pay raise portion of the budget, though lawmakers are expected to try again next week.

But if the state House budget is expected to change, the state Senate budget is expected to change even more.

Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Quinn is looking at both plans. She did not say when she expects the leaders to meet.

“We continue to analyze what has come out of both the House and the Senate,” Kraft said. “We’re going to work with both chambers to see what will fit into a final budget.”

And, Kraft didn’t guess when a final budget will be delivered.

Illinois lawmakers are supposed to have a 2012 budget delivered by June 1. The current spending plan does not expire until July 1, but the Constitution requires super-majority votes to approve anything after June 1.

Former state Sen. Denny Jacobs said there likely may be a compromise on the state’s final budget, but taxpayers won’t know until everything is wrapped up.

“It is a tremendous improvement over the past, but I don’t know if the results are really going to be any different. We still hear the same old diatribe of the in-party saying one thing, and the party that’s on the outside saying something else,” he said.

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